Sam Olson liked soccer, but never felt he was good at the sport.

The Westerville North High School sophomore started playing when he was 6, but gave it up in the eighth grade to focus on his passion: lacrosse.

However, before his freshman year, friends told Olson that the boys soccer program was in need of goalkeepers, so he decided to give that a try.

Less than a month later, Olson was starting in goal for the opener against Grove City, which beat the Warriors 4-1. It was a daunting experience.

"I started last year and it was a bit scary," said Olson, who has 106 saves this season. "It was terrifying to be going up against these big seniors when I was a small freshman. I was like 5-foot-7 then, but at least I'm 5-11 now."

Olson has started every game the last two seasons for the Warriors. Coach Drew Buttermore said Olson definitely filled a need.

"Sam had the athletic tools and we were in dire need of keepers at the time and he was able to earn the starting position," Buttermore said. "He has very good instincts. He anticipates well, works really hard and is a really good athlete.

"He actually was a field player but he has a cousin, (2011 North graduate) Dylan Thompson, who was a goalie for us. They worked a lot together getting him ready."

Olson had two saves as the Warriors tied Olentangy Orange at 4 on Oct. 9 to finish 0-2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. Jovonni Auddino, Jacob Grant, Jake Gruber and Ryan Slate all scored.

"I played (in the) field before I played goalie, but I wasn't really very good (in the) field," Olson said. "I was a right wing and wanted to try something different. I feel like I'm a lot better at goalie and I have more fun on the team.

"I had stopped playing soccer to focus on lacrosse because it was my favorite sport. Right about now, I would say they were even (in terms of preference). I'm a midfielder in lacrosse. Goalies are crazy there. ... That ball is a lot harder and it hurts when that hits you. It doesn't hurt as much when you get hit with a soccer ball."

The Warriors are 1-11-4 overall and seeded 31st in the Division I district tournament. They open Saturday, Oct. 20, in the second round at 14th-seeded Canal Winchester or 19th-seeded Grove City. They lost to Grove City 1-0 on Aug. 17 and defeated Canal Winchester 6-0 on Sept. 8.

Olson had 10 saves in the shutout of the Indians.

"Sam grew what seems like 6 inches since last year and not only has his height increased, but he has become more comfortable back there," Buttermore said. "He is starting to communicate more with the players and he recognizes the situations where he has to come off his line sooner rather than later. That was one of the issues we had last year. The other thing is that he has gotten better with balls in the air. That was a liability last year when they would just flick balls in. That's not as much of a concern this year."

If the Warriors win their postseason opener, they'll play in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, against fourth-seeded Pickerington North, 29th-seeded Chillicothe or 39th-seeded Licking Heights at the home of the better seed. They lost to Pickerington North 10-0 on Aug. 30.

"Our season could be better, but we have a really tough schedule," said Olson, whose team went 1-15-1 last season. "We're definitely better than last year. We're figuring out our defense because that was a problem last year and we're playing better on offense."

Hutcherson, Miracle lead runners in league

Isaiah Hutcherson and Paige Miracle led the boys and girls cross country teams in the OCC-Buckeye meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Davidson.

Miracle finished 11th in 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds as the girls were fifth (109 points) behind champion Orange (38). Audrey Smith (20th, 20:33.4) was next, followed by Grace Blanchong (22nd, 20:43.0), Eva Bernhardt (29th, 21:14.1), Erica Mobley (32nd, 21:21.7), Samantha Dages (41st, 21:55.1) and Emily Widman (42nd, 21:55.2).

Hutcherson was 20th (17:10.4) to lead the boys, who were sixth (168) behind champion Orange (34). Dillon Lauer (43rd, 18:34.7) was next, followed by Brent Daubenmire (46th, 18:39.8), Ryan Iarussi (48th, 18:51.5), Matthew Rollins (50th, 18:57.7), D'Angelo Phillips (53rd, 19:13.5) and Corbin Paulicivic (55th, 19:28.6).

The Warriors will compete in Division I district meets Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby. The boys will run in district 3 and the girls are in district 2. The top six teams and top 24 individuals in both races advance to regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.

Girls soccer team opens postseason

The 20th-seeded girls soccer team improved to 7-9-1 by defeating 39th-seeded Groveport 13-0 on Oct. 15 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Warriors play a second-round game at 11th-seeded Canal Winchester on Thursday, Oct. 18, and that winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, against seventh-seeded Gahanna or 37th-seeded Licking Heights at the home of the better seed.

Girls volleyball team begins postseason

The 34th-seeded girls volleyball team was 7-15 before opening the Division I district tournament Oct. 16 at 32nd-seeded Marysville in a first-round match.

The winner plays at fourth-seeded Orange on Thursday, Oct. 18. The Warriors lost to the Pioneers 25-15, 25-16, 25-6 on Sept. 25 and 25-7, 25-10, 25-10 on Oct. 11.

The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 25 at Whitehall.

Senior golfer falls short of making state

Senior Pierre Southibounnorath tied for 11th (77) in the Division I boys golf district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley, falling short of advancing to state.

Central Crossing's Caleb Davern and Olentangy Liberty's Grant Smeltzer were the individual state qualifiers. Both shot 71 and then Smeltzer won a one-hole playoff for medalist honors.

Dublin Jerome (293) and St. Charles (309) were the team qualifiers to state.

In a sectional Oct. 2 at Darby Creek, Southibounnorath shot a 74 to share medalist honors with three other players.

The Warriors finished fifth (0-16) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Liberty (14-2), but Southibounnorath was first-team all-league.

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